Stir Your Affections for Jesus
Written by Julie Roth
When I was in high school, I traveled to New York City with 250 band members to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The trip was fabulous. In addition to marching the streets of NYC, I saw Les Miserables on Broadway, visited Times Square at night, and ice skated at Rockefeller Center. I came home with amazing memories and several designer knock-off watches that I purchased from a street vendor. Those watches were prized possessions for a few weeks. Until they quit working.
The counterfeit is dressed to impress our wandering, roaming eye. But counterfeits, whether watches or gods, always cost us more than we think. They always cost us more than they are worth. John understood the cost, which is why he lovingly urges us as “dear children [to] keep away from anything that might take God’s place in [our] hearts” (I John 5:21).
John knew that our hearts can have only one #1 love. That spot, which was designed by God, for God to fill, is frequently ‘on loan’ to created things.
Before we delve into this heart-breaking truth, it would behoove us to remember another truth: it is good for us to love and appreciate created things, “for by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rules or authorities - all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). It is ok to enjoy temporary things.
Psalm 148 is a call to worship for all of creation to praise the name of the Lord because He created all things. God gave us creation to stir our affections for Him. But when we look to those creations to satisfy us beyond their design they become counterfeit gods. Those gods are not content to take up space in our hearts - they want to be our #1.
Every time we make room for a counterfeit god our affection for Jesus decreases. Every time. This loss of Godly affection is a secondary loss in that we rarely intend for our relationship with Jesus to be impacted. We think we can elevate a created affection without it becoming a counterfeit god. Then, we believe we can love the counterfeit god while maintaining our affection for Jesus. Both beliefs are cleverly crafted lies. And we don’t even know it is happening.
The truth? Anything that does not stir our affection for Jesus robs us of our affection for Jesus.
I no longer own those NYC street watches but I remember the temporary satisfaction they gave my friends and me. There was an allure to having something that appeared valuable but cost almost nothing. Actually, I did not even know designer watches existed so I did not initially understand the appeal of the counterfeit. But the energy stirred by my friends’ pursuit of discount knock-offs stirred my desire for them, too. Such energy that inspires behavior can be seen in the church and may be true in our love for Christ. As we are surrounded by both a biblical and physical cloud of witnesses to God’s faithfulness, we learn we can lay aside that which is false for the one and only true God.
Just as we look to created things to satisfy our hearts, we are tempted to look to created things and our own efforts to satisfy the wrath of God. Creations do not satisfy the need we have for Christ and they do not satisfy God. Jesus Christ, whose physical birth we celebrate this season, is the only means to satisfy God’s wrath against sin. Therefore, we look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
As a high school freshman who did not have a job, the real designer watches were not available to me. By contrast, the truth of Christ is free and available to all. This truth is necessary for salvation and sanctification.
Wherever we find ourselves and regardless of our history, we must ask ourselves two questions:
1. Do I believe this truth today?
2. Are the things that are stirring my affections today stirring my affections for Christ?
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
When your affection is for God, He promises to give you more of Him. Not only is your affection for Him stirred but you will actually be satisfied - you will get more of the Person you love.
Julie Roth is a wife and mother of three young children. She has a Masters of Arts in Human Development Counseling, is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, and will begin seminary in 2017. In addition to counseling, she is passionate about teaching the Bible and living life alongside others. Her affections for Jesus are wondrously stirred by nature adventures, evergreen trees and salted caramel hot chocolate.